In a compelling sign that the Republican tide on Tuesday will produce a historic sweep in the House, the final pre-election poll by the Gallup Organization gave the GOP a 55 percent to 40 percent lead over Democrats among likely voters in its generic congressional ballot test. The commanding 15-point advantage makes a Republican takeover “highly probable,” and could produce GOP gains “anywhere from 60 seats on up, with gains well beyond that possible,” according to the Gallup analysis released late Sunday. Gallup’s Oct. 28-31 survey of 1,539 likely voters, which was conducted with USA Today, documented an increase in the “enthusiasm gap” between the two parties. The survey found that 75 percent of Republicans and independents who lean Republican are “absolutely certain” they will vote in the 2010 midterms, compared with 68 percent of Democrats. In recent years, the turnout gap between the two parties has been 2 or 3 points. In 1994, when Republicans gained 54 House seats from the 1992 results, Gallup’s final pre-election poll showed a 67 percent to 62 percent “enthusiasm” lead for Republicans. Among all registered voters, Republicans have only a 4-point lead in the latest Gallup survey. But the poll found that the likely turnout of voters will include 35% of Americans identifying as Republicans, 32% as Democrats, and 32% as independents.
Both parties will win support from more than 90 percent of their based voters, Gallup reported. The election outcome will be shaped by a huge GOP leaning among independents, who favor the Republican candidate by 59 percent to 31 percent, Gallup found. Overall, the GOP advantage among men is 23 percent, compared to 6 percent among women. Regionally, the gap in the generic congressional ballot test is smallest in the Midwest, at 50 percent to 43 percent. By contrast, Republicans hold a commanding 21-point advantage in both the South and the West. Not surprisingly, Tea Party supporters favored the GOP by 90 percent to 7 percent, while Tea Party opponents favored Democrats by 86 percent to 10 percent; those who were neutral split 55 percent to 36 percent for Republicans.
This year’s outcome could result in the largest Republican margin in House voting in several generations, Gallup added. The House GOP’s 56-seat gain in 1946 was its largest since World War II. Democrats rebounded in 1948 with a 75-seat House gain, which was the largest pick-up by either party since the New Deal win in 1932. The new Gallup survey showed that support for President Barack Obama remains steady at 45 percent. But Democrats are suffering because only 21 percent of Americans approve of the job the Democratic-controlled Congress is doing, and 22 percent say they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country right now.
The results are further evidence that voter attitudes have been set for many months, and that the final weeks of campaigning and heavy ad buys have had little impact. On Aug. 30, Gallup’s generic congressional poll gave Republicans a 51 percent to 41 percent advantage, which was the largest GOP polling edge at that stage in the 68 years of the generic congressional ballot poll. In the past month, the GOP lead in Gallup’s weekly poll of that measure has ranged between 14 and 18 points.
Gallup’s congressional ballot test has a long track record of closely predicting actual voter results.
Although some Democratic candidates may find a way to beat the national survey results, the latest Gallup results make clear that a strong national tide likely will bring down dozens of House Democratic incumbents, including some who even now may not be viewed as endangered in Tuesday’s election. In its Oct. 28 listing of competitive House races, the Cook Political Report showed that 49 Democratic-held seats were toss-ups, 25 were a “lean” or “likely” tilt to Republicans, and another 25 seats were a Democratic “lean.” Cook listed three Republican-held seats as likely to change hands. If past practices hold—reinforced by the Gallup tide—at least two-thirds of the toss-up seats could flip to the GOP, as would at least a handful of the “lean” Democratic seats.